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CDD to Tackle Saville Rowe Road Repaving and Drainage Issue

Six Boy Scouts and two adult leaders of Troop 46 observed the Nov. 5 meeting of the Westchase CDD.

The likely takeaway?

Good government involves a lot of unglamorous housekeeping.

The 96-minute meeting of the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) covered an array of administrative decisions while resolving a pressing issue for the Saville Rowe Homeowners Association. At the end of the session, CDD Chair Mark Ragusa, who also serves as the troop’s Scoutmaster, inquired whether the boys had any questions. When they remained silent, he joking inquired if they were still awake.

Opening action, however, saw supervisors weigh the need for a playground and facilities safety audit to ensure the district is in compliance with accessibility requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act. While a consultant has offered to undertake an audit and complete a written report for between $1,300-1,700, a motion by Ragusa to pay the consultant up to $500 for a walk through to identify issues ultimately passed unanimously.

CDD Engineer Tonja Stewart then addressed an issue with a sump (essentially a large hole or depression in the ground to filter stormwater run-off before its passage into nearby wetlands) located at the back of West Park Village. Stewart stated the sump in question actually rested on two West Park Village homeowners’ properties but the district has a maintenance easement over the area. According to Stewart, the sump was either not excavated to plan by the developer or later backfilled, perhaps by a homeowner, after its construction. The sump’s banks, which were reinforced in recent years with a burlap fabric and additional plantings to control erosion, however, have continued to erode, potentially threatening one of the homeowners’ fences, erected over the easement.

Field Manager Doug Mays stated that the homeowner’s landscaping on the sump bank essentially punctured holes through the erosion control barrier and may have contributed to the continuing erosion problems. Further, Stewart recommended the existing fence be moved further from the sump and outside the easement.

According to Mays, erosion issues could be resolved with the construction of a $6,500 retaining wall; the homeowner, he added, has offered to split the cost of the wall with the district. The proposal, however, didn’t fly with Ragusa, who queried, “So the resident wants us to pay half for a wall to repair an issue created by the resident?”

Stewart added that the wall would limit district access to the area for maintenance purposes. “I hate to say this, but I’m not an advocate of walls.”

Supervisors ultimately backed Brian Ross’ suggestion that Stewart and staff needed to investigate the matter further before making a clear recommendation for action.

Addressing budgetary clean-up tasks prior to their audit for the 2013 financial year, which ended in September, supervisors passed a resolution transferring money from their fund balance (consisting of past years’ surpluses) into the general fund, needed because of a budget shortfall. That shortfall, related to the funding of the Harbor Links/The Estates gas street light conversion project, was anticipated. Last year supervisors decided to fund the project from their fund balance rather than take a loan to pay for the project. Residents of those neighborhoods, however, will be assessed in coming years to pay the district back in full for the work. CDD Chair Ragusa requested that Harbor Links VM Nancy Sells, who was present at the meeting, explore with her residents their preference for repayment of the debt.

Making her report, CDD Attorney Erin McCormick stated that the deed had been recorded for the 5.5-acre parcel of land the district recently purchased, at a cost of $218,000, between Stonebridge and Promise Drive.

Addressing a staff suggestion that the district hire a company to produce and maintain a new district Web site, supervisors ultimately asked Supervisor Bob Argus to compile a proposal for one.

Field Manager Doug Mays announced that he had recently met with Glencliff Voting Member Kathy Carlsen and an individual from the Hillsborough County Extension Office. Stating the staff member from the Extension Office had expertise in Florida Friendly Landscaping, he stated, “She’s actually putting together a new plan for us.” Mays explained the goal was to add some color to the community’s landscaping. “I think it will benefit the community and look really nice,” he added.

Mays also stated staff was working to settle an insurance claim and locate matching red brick to repair damage to a Westchase neighborhood wall along Linebaugh Avenue and in the Woodford Bridge Street cul de sac. The work is estimated to cost $4,700 and supervisors authorized Ragusa to sign the insurance settlement agreement after final costs for acquiring repair materials were determined.

Supervisors then considered a request from Saville Rowe HOA President Folkert Koelman. Koelman’s neighborhood, located adjacent to the Westchase Golf Course parking lot, is a maintenance-free community whose HOA owns and maintains all the land outside the units. Currently, the neighborhood has a CDD fund balance of more than $50,000, reserved for maintenance of its roads and gates. Showing majority support of his homeowners, Koelman hoped to use $9,800 of those funds to install French drains alongside three units that were taking water damage from a Saville Rowe HOA-owned land that is not draining properly.

CDD Attorney Erin McCormick, however, stated it was not legally proper for the district to use public funds – even those provided solely by Saville Rowe homeowners – to address an issue on privately held property owned by the HOA. Some supervisors’ comments, however, made clear they hoped to finesse the issue in order to allow the homeowners to tap the surplus, derived from their past assessments. An acceptable solution was found in repaving the neighborhood’s roads a bit earlier, allowing the district to address any adjacent drainage problems that could affect the work. CDD Engineer Stewart also stated she preferred this solution over Saville Rowe’s more limited approach, which wouldn’t fully regrade and drain the area. With the idea meeting McCormick’s blessing, staff was directed to come back with bids for both the repaving and the drainage work.

In closing, Supervisor Brian Ross expressed concerns about residents using the Westchase Recreation Center and illegally parking on Westchase Drive than using the center’s parking area on the southwest corner of Westchase Elementary’s campus. Stating he was concerned that the practice could jeopardize the district’s future access to the new 5.5-acre parcel behind the center, Ross said he planned to raise the issue with the county and the center’s staff.

Supervisors adjourned at 5:36 p.m.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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